Scroll through this page for Videos, Press Articles, Radio interviews, articles and testimonials about the Sycamore Project.
Visit the Sycamore Voices website for stories and information from Queensland participants.
In over 20 countries, Sycamore Tree Project (STP) brings victims and unconnected offenders together for eight 2 hour sessions, over a period of 8 weeks. Almost one third of Aussies have been victims of some kind of crime. Chances are, you know a few. We would like them to know about our remarkable program called the Sycamore Tree Project. Help us locate crime victims in your area.
Read on for more details and first hand accounts of Sycamore Tree Project in Australia and around the world.
The ABC has put together a special feature page for the Sycamore Tree Project
Click here to go to the special ABC Radio feature.
Sycamore Tree on 96.5fm Talking Life Peter Janetzki interviews Martin Howard and two crime survivors from the Sycamore Tree Project. Download Podcast
FREE eBook about Sycamore experiences Download “Shafts of Light“: Experiences of the Sycamore Tree Project in Western Australia. Letters from crime victim participants and inmates (pdf)
15 minute video: Australian survivors of violent crime talk about their experiences in the Sycamore Tree Project.
The recent STP pilot has been featured in the Courier Mail Saturday Magazine.
“The project is about restorative justice,” he says. “Instead of the alternative idea which is retributive justice – a crime happens, we find the perpetrator, punish them by putting them in jail and that’s the end of the process.
“That process ignores the fact the crime has a lot of impacts across the community,” Howard says. “It starts with the immediate people involved in the crime. It affects the victim. It affects the victim’s family. It affects the offender. It affects their families and on it goes. Instead of one thing that one person did wrong we look at all of those elements. What impact has it had on the victim’s life? Have there been medical repercussions? Are there practical financial repercussions? How does it affect their relationships?”
It’s a faith-based project, but it’s not preachy. It’s about sharing stories. It’s about empathy. Putting oneself in another’s shoes.”
Press article: Toowoomba man Martin Howard lobbied governments to introduce the project into Queensland, believing it could offer a more effective long-term solution to reducing crime, and giving victims a voice in the community. “Science has proven that we can do better than simply locking people away,” he says. Download Article
Sycamore Tree Project interview from ABC Radio (612) Wednesday Feb 8. STP Participant Ross Thompson joined Martin Howard to talk with Steve Austin. “If your son was brutally murdered, could you take on the task of helping to rehabilitate criminals? The Sycamore Tree Project aims to bring victims of crime and perpetrators together in order to help prisoners to understand the impact of their deeds. The Sycamore Tree Project aims to bring victims of crime and perpetrators together in order to help prisoners to understand the impact of their deeds.” Listen and Download the podcast here
There are five core features which make up the Sycamore Tree Project. Each of these directly relate to five parts of the Zacchaeus story. Crime victims are given the opportunity to tell prisoners how they have been affected, and the hurt that they feel. The prisoners are given an opportunity to consider how they can try to make things right with their victims. The prisoners and victims are given the chance to explain – in a public celebration – what they have learned about the meaning and importance of healing the hurt and making things right.
Quotes from Australian participants
Its success in engaging both victims of crime and offenders is well acknowledged, providing the opportunity to explore important life issues through Teamwork and cooperation… I have personally viewed the victims and offenders address their own personal issues and develop a greater understanding of “empathy”.
Graham Bond, Assistance Superintendent
Prisoner Management, Karnet Prison Farm, Western Australia
There have been ten programs run at Acacia with over 60 offenders participating. The Sycamore Tree project is highly regarded within Acacia and is seen as a major pillar in our desire to deliver prison services from a Restorative Justice perspective. The Prison Fellowship Sycamore Tree Project is an integral element of the resettlement strategy. Acacia strongly supports this funding application.
Andrew Beck, Director ACACIA PRISON, Western Australia
I only wish that other secondary victims of crime could experience what I have and see that we don’t need to be prisoners of pain and hate… and fear. There is a better way to experience life in the aftermath of violent crime…. and it is really the only way we will ever be free… This course has helped me to forgive myself for past transgressions and has helped me to move to a place where I can see that forgiving the person who killed my daughter is possible.
Karen – STP Participant WA 2006
In the last 15 years, I have spent 13 1/2 years within the system. I have done countless courses – some good, some bad. Without a shadow of a doubt the Sycamore Tree Project is the best thing that could ever have happened to me. The sheer rawness of emotions it delivers and the understanding and compassion it releases within people gives you a sense of hope for the future for everyone involved. Jeremy – Inmate STP Participant WA 2006
The Sycamore Tree Project is like nothing I have participated in before. Although the course has a structure, I feel that it is the participants that take the course on its journey. It tests the edge and pushes the boundaries. It truly is based on honesty, trust and respect. There is no judgement and definitely no `BS’.
Elizabeth STP Participant WA 2008
At the conclusion of one of our sessions, as everyone was politely shaking hands, I received an almighty shock…. one of the victims hugged me! I think she surprised herself more than me because she said ‘I shouldn’t do this… ahh, who cares!’
Sam Inmate STP Participant WA 2008
Prisoners need to be involved with restoring what they have damaged whether through work, education or other means. We are too far removed from the reality of our actions. Punishment is only a small part of rehabilitation and courses such as the Sycamore Tree Project go a long way to connecting the perpetrators to his role in the suffering he has caused.
Gerald Inmate STP Participant WA 2008
The Sycamore Tree Project has changed my life. Now I have friends coming and going from my house all the time. I am excited about the next project and I have cut back my work hours to be part of it. I have a reason to go on with my life. My thoughts have stopped taking me down the dark alley and mugging me. Life is definitely worth living.
To be able to sit among complete strangers who had been direct victims of crimes and hear their stories and see the pain in their eyes was truly confronting and gave me the determination never to be the person I was before. It also showed me through the passage of time the path to forgiveness could be reached.
Read by Gordon (also convicted of murder), at his graduation.